Manchester United should already know their transfer priorities for next summer
It's shaping up to be a promising transfer window for Man Utd but they should already be looking ahead to next summer and completing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's rebuild.
It might look a little presumptuous to be scanning ahead to the summer 2022 transfer window when the current incarnation is yet to really flicker into life, but then the success of every recruitment department at elite clubs is now judged on their ability to forward plan.
In the age of data analysis clubs know where their potential weak spots lie in a squad and who could be suited to strengthening them further down the line, so while Manchester United still have targets to achieve between now and the end of August, they will also have a rough plan in place for what might be required a year down the line.
This has been a quiet window so far, as is often the case in a major tournament year, but it's been enlivened by United and their deal to sign Jadon Sancho, which will be completed once England's European Championship campaign is over. That's set the tone for what could be a promising summer and United are working to sign Raphael Varane from Real Madrid as well.
Landing Varane, or another elite-level centre back, would tick the two most significant boxes of this window, in landing Solskjaer's top target for the right-wing and strengthening at the back. United will hope it doesn't end there, with a right-back, ideally Kieran Trippier, on the radar as well as Rennes' highly-rated midfielder Eduardo Camavinga.
Even if United do land the 19-year-old Camavinga, who is out of contract next summer, a central midfielder will likely remain high on next season's wishlist. In fact there look to be two obvious major deals to be done in 2022, in a new striker and a new midfielder.
To start in front of goal, Edinson Cavani's contract comes to an end next summer and having turned 35 in February he will probably expect to return home to South America. He came close to swapping Greater Manchester for Buenos Aires this summer and this is likely to be his final season in European football.
That will leave a significant hole in Solskjaer's squad and one that Anthony Martial has looked ill-equipped to fill. Erling Haaland and Harry Kane are obvious potential targets for 2022 and both would be easier deals to do than they are now, but it's not beyond the realms of possibility that Chelsea (Haaland) and Manchester City (Kane) pounce this summer while they have the floor to themselves for both players.
If Haaland and Kane are out of the reckoning United will need to get inventive when it comes to signing their next great goalscorer, but then a new name could very possibly emerge in the next 12 months.
As United's interest in Camavinga shows there is an appeal in signing a central midfielder this summer. Given he could be available for just €30million and is considered one of the hottest prospects in Europe, the attractions of the one-cap France international is obvious.
If he signs then how he gets on in his first season might condition United's plans for midfield in 2022. At that point they will have clarity on Paul Pogba's future, with his contract expiring next June as things stand. United also have an interest in Declan Rice, but the 22-year-old has three years remaining on his contract with West Ham, who value him in excess of £100million. If he goes anywhere this summer it's more likely to be Chelsea.
Over the last three summers, United have gradually built to a position where Solskjaer's squad rebuild is very nearly complete. Central midfield and centre forward already look the obvious areas for investment a year from now, at which point United will expect to have a squad capable of challenging for honours domestically and abroad.
A year can be a long time in football. It's not inconceivable United's priorities will change, or that injuries or loss of form will push other issues to the top of the wishlist, but for now, as they draw up a long-term plan, the key areas to address in 2022 appear obvious.